With the number of unemployed Americans today being equivalent to the number of people living in Alaska, Idaho, the Dakotas, Utah, Wyoming, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Arizona combined, recruiters who do have jobs to offer are often overwhelmed by the flood of applications they receive.  Weeding out the unqualified candidates in order to focus on the qualified ones can be a daunting task.  Every recruiter has a set of criteria for sifting through the numbers, which (perhaps surprisingly) varies little among industries and openings.  No matter the type of job, there are some things a candidate can do solidify a place at the top of the heap and some “mistakes” that will positively send an applicant to the bottom.  Today, we’re focusing on the latter.

In speaking with a lead talent acquisition specialist for a nation-wide property management company, I found that most of our pet-peeves were the same.  She is tasked with high-volume hiring and recruiting for properties all over the country and has little time to spend on anyone who is not a top-tier candidate.  According to her, there are 5 sure-fire ways to end up in her (or some other) application graveyard:

1. Sending files that aren’t readable.  If I can’t open the file (which happens more often than you’d think), they’re out.  Documents need to be in Word file or preferably a PDF — a universally acceptable file! If I can’t open it, you can’t have the job.

2. Misdirected cover letter/objective.  If you are applying for a sales position with me, don’t tell me how excited you are to apply for a marketing job with “company X.” If they can’t pay attention to that little detail and are sending me a “stock letter” I’m not interested. This also goes for the “summary statement” — I want to make sure they are applying for the job I am offering!

3. Unrelated experience or failure to prove relevance.  Job history…do they have any? If they are applying for a sales position, have they SOLD anything in the past? I appreciate a diverse job history, but if you are applying for a management position with us it’s important you have some relevant experience.  Show me that you’ve managed something in the past or show me that you have the capacity to do so.

4. Typos, spelling errors, down-right lazy formatting. Your resume is your foot in the door.  Sort of like when you interview– the suit you wear, the time you take grooming — it all matters.  Take the time, organize, prioritize, SPELLCHECK and proofread!

5. Shaky job history.  If there is no longevity there, it’s is a huge red flag. Were you fired? Did you quit? Regardless, I don’t want to pay to bring someone on who may not last.


The bottom line is that serious job seekers need to take the time to show that they are serious candidates.  A little bit of extra time and care put into the application process goes a long way.


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